Justin Trudeau pledges $116M for transit and water projects in Nova Scotia
Prime minister visited Bridgetown with Premier Stephen McNeil as part of Atlantic Canada tour
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Bridgetown, N.S., today as part of an East Coast tour and announced nearly $116 million in federal funding for projects related to transit and water in the province.
A crowd gathered in Jubilee Park in Bridgetown to hear where the money — announced in the federal government's budget in March — will go.
There are 73 wastewater and drinking water projects in the province, estimated fo cost about $181 million. Ottawa is kicking in about $86 million for the work, the province is adding $43 million and municipalities will cover the rest.
$59M for public transit
Trudeau also announced $59 million worth of public transit projects across the province. Of that money, Ottawa is putting in $29.5 million and municipalities will cover the rest for the 23 projects planned.
The transit projects are spread between Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Halifax Regional Municipality, the Town of Yarmouth and the Kings Transit Authority.
Tuesday's announcement is part of the first phase of the government's promised 10-year, $125-billion infrastructure plan.
It was a veritable love-in in Bridgetown, with people young and old angling for photos and handshakes with the prime minister, and the majority of the province's Liberal MLAs and MPs on hand in what amounts to Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil's backyard.
But Trudeau has taken some heat on the East Coast recently for his government's decision to abandon a 140-year custom of having an Atlantic Canadian sit on the Supreme Court of Canada.
In Nova Scotia, his government appears poised to walk away from an equivalency agreement the province had with the former federal government related to greenhouse gas emissions, and Trudeau backed away from an earlier pledge to address Atlantic Canadian premiers' concerns about the way health transfers are calculated.
Listening to Atlantic Canada
Some critics wonder if the region is being treated fairly considering Liberals were elected in every riding in the last federal election.
But on Tuesday Trudeau said his announcement shows the government is listening to Atlantic Canada and committed to helping the region with its challenges.
"I am hearing regularly the concerns of Atlantic Canadians ... and we will always take them closely into account," he said.
'We're going to get people to work'
Premier McNeil said the money for wastewater projects in particular is significant because so many municipalities, including his own, have struggled to meet new federal guidelines for wastewater and drinking water.
The agreements for the projects announced Tuesday are retroactive to April 1, meaning cash will start flowing as soon as work on a given project is ready to begin. Trudeau said the hope is the wave of infrastructure work will also help create jobs and spur on the economy, which has been sluggish of late.
"We know that communities need jobs and we're going to get people to work," the prime minister said.
Following his stop in Bridgetown, Trudeau travelled to New Glasgow for a barbecue where he was greeted by hundreds of people.
With files from Rachel Ward